Lueur by Bjarni Gunnarsson

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Bjarni Gunnarsson | Lueur
Tartaruga (LP/DL)

Icelandic composer and sound artist Bjarni Gunnarsson has just released his latest album, Lueur, four electroacoustic tracks, on London imprint Tartaruga Records in an edition of 200 copies (silkscreened by Luke Twyman, 16 ways). First up is the isolationist Prisme, which is quite chilling and sparse at first, but slowly dropping into the mix are granualized effects, and other abstractions. These pops and twists sound like a contortionist trying to undo a tight situation from several angles. Many might hear this initially as something topically atonal, but there are actually a whole lot of pieces that fit and flow like mercury, dazzling and dangerous.

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Gunnarsson utilizes all sorts of strange accents of twisted flux, echo and silence to keep the listener as active as he is. There are plenty of crackling surface and aerated experiments. On Brackets the reverberations are distinct, it sounds like a jeweler working on a metallurgic lathe of some sort, where the pitch rises, and divides, and then dissipates. For all the glorious noise variants throughout it would seem clear that the composers greatest asset is his allowance of broken silences – which allow the recording to penetrate, and become more of a series of montage vignettes rather than a composition of one emotive color. Gunnarsson approaches this with poise, so patient and deliberate. It’s as if he has explored the acoustic properties of Earthly elements.

“​The music is derived from generative processes that often appear directly entangled, that are set in motion and activated while maintaining their own degree of autonomy. It takes a certain time for a process to manifest itself. To express its time-varying qualities. How it unfolds resembles a certain kind of evolution, a becoming that does not have a clear goal but that is based on a constant renewal and recreation.”

Once flipped this record becomes an even bolder form of minimalism on Epicycle. With any volume your average-sized room will be quaking. Though the obvious industrial underpinnings here do have their own sense of power, it’s what is hidden behind the drone and serrated sound wall that becomes the foil for its deepest tension. That irresistible blend of the un/seen. Here at the midpoint this is what I consider the peak of the recording, it’s also a breaking point, where the highs and lows start to separate, and its blunt shards of detritus start to settle. Though it is far from a calm and meditative setting – moreso the composer casts an atmosphere that is rich in dark alleys and distant reaches with electrified nerve endings.

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The deeper you go the more peculiar the squeaky stops/starts follow. There is so much patience in the approach to detail. And as it opens, Aperture, the shortest work at under six minutes, brings us home. It warbles with a crippled slowness, leathery twists and airy rushes. At one point it sounds like a big exhalation. As the rugged dial turns to viscous microstatic and other circumstance, the record seems to blend the worlds of Nurse With Wound, Wolfgang Voigt and Basic Channel somehow, yet it is in its own lane.

Top pick for December.

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